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pirst eAnr\ual I^ejDort
— OF THE-
SoFiQFiraiUee en ©encalogtj and ^cpaldpg.
To ike Historical Society of Southern California:
We, the undersigned, your Committee on Genealogy and Her-
aldry, hereby submit our first annual report.
We find by the minutes of April i, 1889, that on motion, a
committee was constituted onheraldry and genealogy in accordance
with the following resolution:
"Resolved, That a Committee on Genealog>' and Heraldry be
added to the list of the regular standing committees of the society,
and that the President be authorized to appoint two members of the
society on the said committee. ' '
No report was made for the year 1889, as the work was compara-
tively new to members of the committee; nevertheless, some pre-
liminary w^ork was done, especially in the department of heraldry.
As many do not see the utility of the creation of this depart-
ment of historical work in our society, we herewith present
what we consider some valid reasons for the same. Historical work
generally includes the public events of the world, and deals little
with even the great personages of its dramas, unless it be to
occasionally and briefly present a biography. The reason for this
may be what Macaulay terms the ' 'perspective of history. ' ' Regard-
ing time as a picture, individuals would naturally disappear in the
dim distance of the receding past before nations, the larger bodies,
The study of the history of nations is always recommended for
the reason that the coming generations can profit by the history of
those past. How often is the history of the ancient Roman repub-
lic, with its concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few
preceding its downfall, held up as a warning to our American
republic to avoid a like fate! If nations can thus receive benefit from
the history of nations, why may not individuals likewise receive
benefit from the history of individuals, and particularly from the
line of their own descent?
28 Report of the Committee on Genealogy and Heraldry.
The principal cause for the neglect of the study of genealogy
and its companion — heraldry — on this continent undoubtedly
sprang from the extreme American antipathy to everj'thing English,
a strong sentiment created by the Revolution. But of late years
there has been a remarkable revulsion of feeling on this point, and
everywhere, particularly in the Atlantic States, people are looking
up their genealogies. Old bibles are being opened, family papers
looked up, public records searched, and even tombstones are
carefully scrutinized for a missing date or coat of arms. The
number of family histories published in America within the past
twenty years reaches into the thousands. Several societies and
publishing houses are wholly devoted to this line of research;
notable among the former are the Huguenot Society of New York,
the New York Genealogical Society, and the Rhode Island Gene-
alogical Society, the last named .society having published several
large volumes. Joel Munsell's Sons of Albanjs N. Y., is one of
the oldest publishing houses in this line, Mr. Joel Munsell having
been in the business over forty years ago. There are several east-
ern magazines devoted wholly to genealogical subjects.
Their research has gone not onlj- to American evidence, but
they have crossed the Atlantic ocean, and the archives of Great
Britain, Holland, Germany and France have yielded rich treasures
of knowledge on questions of American genealogy. Already have
the names of each and ever)' British immigrant to America previous
to the year A. D. 1700 been secured and published, and it is to be
hoped that H will not be long before the list will be brought down
to the year 1 800.
The formation of certain American societies makes genealogical
lore valuable. The Order of the Cincinnati was composed at first
of the commissioned officers of the Revolutionary army. It is still
kept alive by admitting the oldest male heir of each original mem-
ber. The Society of California Pioneers has founded the Junior
Pioneers, admitting thereto only the descendants of its own mem-
bers. The Grand Army of the Republic, composed solely of Union
soldiers of the Rebellion, has a similar organization in the Sons of
Veterans, whose name indicates the character of its membership.
The Military Order of the Loyal Legion, composed only of com-
missioned officers of the Union army in the Rebellion, has rules
in this regard, similar to the Order of the Cincinnati.
The study of genealogy is not only a pleasing gratification of a
laudable curiosity, but it is an incentive to patriotism, and increases
family love and pride and veneration for our ancestors, and thus,
as Macaulay says, entitles us to the respect and remembrance of
Report of the Committee on Genealogy and Heraldry. 29
our posterity. Who is there among us who will not feel more
firmly bound to his country .if he knows that he had a great-grand-
father who fought in the Revolution, a grandfather who bore arms
ia 181 2, and a father who went to the front in the Rebellion?
Already through the brief investigations of this committee, not
only have long-separated branches of families been pleasantly re-
united but communication has been re-established between other
branches who had lost all trace of each other for nearly two hun-
There is another, and perhaps the greatest, benefit to be derived
from a careful study of genealogy, and that is a revival of the
science of stirpiculture. Application being made to a famous
horse-breeder of Kentucky for some information about his ancestry ,
he replied, "Why I know more about the pedigree of my horses than
I do of my own," As if the genus liomo is of less importance than
the genus equus! If "a sound mind dwells in a sound body," and
the lower grades of the animal kingdom can be bred to such high
degrees of physical superiority, reason urges that man, standing at
the head of the animal kingdom, can likewise receive the benefit of
the same laws, not applied with Spartan heroism but rationally
and conservatively. The revival of physical training in our schools
is certainly a step in that direction, and a right one, and, surely, if
one knows the physical virtues and vices of his ancestors, he can
at least direct the stream of his descent, so as, in a measure, to
preserve the one and lose some of the other. These ideas are cer-
tainly in accord with those of many learned writers on hygiene.
Who knows but that here in America, where there is a grand re-
mingling of the blood of the Ar>'an family — Kelts, Teutons,
Sclavs, Latins and Greeks — there will yet be produced, by
observance of these scientific laws, a grander grade of manhood
than that of which our remote ancestors boasted upon the uplands
Nor is the art of heraldry to be despised. It is of the greatest
assistance in the study of genealogy. The following is condensed
fiom the London Encyclopedia as explanatory on the subject:
Armorial ensigns are hereditary marks of honor made up of
fixed and determined colors and figures, sometimes bestowed by
sovereign princes as a reward for military valor or eminent public
services. They also serve to denote the descent and alliance of
the bearer, or to distinguish cities, societies, etc., whether civil,
military or ecclesiastical. Arms were first used by commanders in
war to distinguish their persons to their friends and followers.
Homer, Ovid and Virgil relate that their heroes had divers figures
30 Report of the Committee on Genealogy and Heraldry.
on their shields whereby their persons were distinctlj' known.
The samt is true of our American Indians.
The origin of heraldrj' as an art must be referred to the times of
Charlemagne and Frederick Barbarossa, since it commenced and
increased under the feudal sj'stem. The hereditary arms of fami-
lies did not begin till toward the close of the fourth century.
Coats of arms first originated in the German tournaments, being a
sort 'of livery made up of several lists (strips), fillets (threads or
cords), or narrow pieces of stuff of various colors, w^hencecame the
fess, the bend and the pale, indicating the manner in which those
bands were originally worn; these being the most ancient charges
of family arms, since those who had never been at tournaments
wore no such marks of distinction.
The adventurers who enlisted in the crusades also assumed
several new figures formerly unknown in armorial ensigns, such as
allerions, bezants, escallop-shells, martlets, etc. , but more particu-
larly crosses of different colors and shapes, of which there are at
least twenty-twQ varieties.
The introduction of armorial bearings into England is referred
to the second crusade in A. D. 1147. About 1189 the arms were
usually depicted upon a small escutcheon and worn at the belt.
King Richard I is the earliest instance of their being borne upon
an ordinar>- shield, though thej- are found on seals of the seventh
and eighth centuries. Heraldry, like most human inventions, was
introduced and established gradually, and, after having been rude
and unsettled for many ages, it was at least methodized and fixed
by the crusades and tournaments.
These marks are called arms because they were worn by mili-
tary' mtn at war or tournaments. They are also called coats of
arms btcause they were formerly worked upon coats worn over
armor. There are nine different kinds, viz. , arms of
1. Dominion, borne by emperors, kings and states. Under
this head come the arms of the United States of America and of
the State of California, although it must be admitted that the latter
was not constructed with any regard to the rules of heraldry.
2. Pretention, of a political division claimed by a king, etc.
3. Concession, given by princes as a great reward.
4. Community, of cities, societies, etc. The arms of the city of
Los Angeles are argent charged with a bunch of mission
grapes/r<7/>^r. Our historical society, not yet having incorporated,*
has selected no seal, and it is to be hoped that when it does that
some attention will be given 10 the laws governing the same.
'Incorporated February 13, 1891, and selected for its Seal, the arms of f he United i
quartered with Spain and Mexico: signlilcint of the three countries which have aaecee-
■ively ruled Southern California.
Report of the Committee on Genealogy and Heraldry. 31
The seal should have the two striking characteristics of simplicity
5. Patronage, such arms of states, manors, etc. , as the governors,
etc., add to their own.
6. Family, belonging exclusively to certain families which none
others have the right to assume. In Great Britain, violations of
this law did render all articles bearing arms of families, and owned
by persons not entitled to wear them, subject to seizure and
confiscation by the earl marshal. Under the British law of
primogeniture only the oldest male heir is allowed to use the full
coat of arms of his ancestors together with the supporters, crest,
and motto. The other male heirs may use the same but it must be
charged with a difference, as a label, crescent, etc., of which there
are some thirt\--six distinguishing "marks of cadency," as they are
called. The female heirs and their descendant.s are entitled onl}' to
the shield, and this must be of a lozenge shape for the female, but
this is not held under the Scotch law.
There are many families in Southern California, who, by right
of descent, are entitled to coats of arms, and this committee would
like to hear from all such, and receive copies of their coats and
7. Alliance, added by marriage and quartered.
8. Succession, added by inheritance and quartered.
9. Assumptive, "taken by caprice," says the above ::ianied auth-
ority, and, it might be added, without regard to "rhyme or reason."
America, with all of its democracy of .sentiment, is, perhaps, more
cursed with arms assumptive tlian any other countrj-. Where per-
sons of no intellectual education and of obscure descent, become
financially independent, their first impulse is to as-^^unie a coat of
arms. Generally a book on peerage is consulted, and if a family is
found of the same name, wh-ther related or not, their coat is at once
dishonestly assumed, and blazoned on house, plate, carriage, lodge
and liver>'; or a jewder is employed,who does the stealing by proxy
or constructs a coat out of his own mind without regard to heraldic
laws. As a consequence some funny things happen, as on the fa-
cades of several prominent residences in this city there are coats of
arms charged with a bend sinister. The bend sinister is a sign of il-
legitimate descent, which the wealthy owners, perhaps both igno-
rantly and innocently, publish to the world.
We think it should be laid down as one of the cardinal rules of
this society that no coat of arms should be recorded in our archives
until the right of the claimant thereto has been fully established.
32 Report of the Committte on Genealogy and Heraldry
The number and names of genealogies filed by your committee
the past year (1890) in your archives have been:
1. The Weir family genealogy.
2. The descent of George Butler Griffin from Jesse De Forrest,
the founder of New York.
3. The descent of Charles Putnam Fenner from John Putnam.
4. Joshua Stephens' Family History.
5. Clippings from the Richmond, Va., Critic.
6. Family History of Hon. William Vandever.
We invite all the members of the society to prepare and file
with us their respective genealogies, and as many others as can be
B. A. Cecil-Stephens, Chairman.
Geo. Butler Griffin,
M. C. Westbrook,
Los Angeles, January 5, 1891. Committee.